History Channel // 2007 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // March 22nd, 2007
"Strict adherence warned that this mystical practice holds hidden perils."
Many millennia ago, before the time of Jesus, there were Jewish mystics who believed that studying ancient texts could unlock the very nature of God -- and that the universe would open up before them. It would be as a blossoming flower or a nova's burst. They would gain knowledge so great that there were tales of men who had died or were driven mad in the attempt to assimilate it. Now, in the dark dawn of the 21st century, noted Biblical scholars such as Ashton Kutcher and Madonna have turned their intellects toward deciphering the mysteries hidden with the words of those ancient Kabbalah texts.
This documentary ranges from Kabbalah's earliest beginnings (when only a select few knew of the its existence) to now, when it has become mass-produced and commercially available to any Tom, Dick or Jane. This is hardly an exhaustive treatise of the subject. They covered over two thousand years of history in fifty minutes. There were quite a few areas that I wish they could have covered in more depth or even just touched upon, such as the opinions from modern rabbis, instead of just the thoughts of Kabbalah scholars and followers.
And this is where the single extra gives this sparse documentary a large boost. The large and lengthy collection of deleted interviews is a great addition to the information already covered in Secrets of Kabbalah. They cover topics such as the Torah and go into even more detail about the beliefs and history of Kabbalah.
The History Channel has lifted it cleanly and it sounds and looks as good as it ever will.
With the addition of the interviews, Secrets of Kabbalah does its job well given the limiting constraints of a television time slot and is certainly worth a rental for those wishing for a quick introduction into this rather unusual offshoot of Judaism. Just don't expect to be an expert by the time the end credits roll.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Interviews with Leading Kabbalah Scholars